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Author Topic: The Death of Consumer Cameras
Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6908
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted September 12, 2016 01:52 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Something I'm sure a lot of you have noticed is how unusual it is for people to use actual cameras lately. I'm not even talking about ones with film in them: this applies to digital still cameras and camcorders too.

This gent has noticed too, and he has numbers to back it up:

The Death of Consumer Cameras

I'm sure many of you have heard here: We have this kid living in the house! (It's OK...we wanted him to!) Among a lot of other stuff, it means we get to go to a lot of parenty-things. There are concerts, and graduations, first days of school and other general kid-growing-up kinds of things. Back in MY dayyyy (I almost hate myself for using this expression!), the Moms and Dads had Kodaks with flash-cubes mounted, and the really cool parents hoisted movie cameras. By the time we became parents, the faithful still showed up with 35mm SLRs, but most others had digital still cameras and camcorders.

-lately you notice most of 'em are hoisting their little plastic rectangle and if something goes sour at work, they are going to have to stop taking pictures so they can shout into it. ("It's NOT my FAULT!")

I love a camera: I love standing there cradling the lens in my left hand and the body in my right. I love looking through the viewfinder and changing the whole meaning of the image using focus. It's a cool thing: basically a paintbrush for the rest of us that couldn't learn to draw or paint very well.

I don't particularly like using something that fits in my hand like a Pop-Tart and whose "shutter release button" is only a symbol on a screen, but when you're talking about a camera that's always with you, that you basically got as a free prize when you bought your cell phone, that can snap a picture like this from about 300 feet away:

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-it's kind of hard to fight that!

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted September 12, 2016 03:47 PM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've noticed and for the most part I'm also happy to not have to deal with another device that needs batteries or has to be charged, or that you have to carry. I got this photo from my phone last night:

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Now, it wasn't easy lining up my phone over the eyepiece of the telescope to get that and I do have a real camera mount coming, but still...

Having said that I've found myself suddenly in possession of not one but 3 SLRs - film cameras. In addition we do have one decent DSLR plus a couple of Super 8 cameras. It doesn't stop there. We have a nice point and shoot that can be submerged up to 30 meters, and a GoPro knockoff.

Since Steve mentioned kids, try getting a good picture of your kid during his high school football game 30 yards away, at night under less than perfect lights, - with a phone. Aside from being skilled, lucky, or both, sometimes the key to getting good photographs in tricky situations is having good lenses. I'm amazed a what can be done with a little lens on a phone but they have their limitations.

I think it's a very good time to be into photography or video. You can do a lot with what you happen to be carrying around (a phone). My teens have a great time making goofy videos with their phones. But there's a lot of other great options too. And if you're into film, you can get old SLRs and great lenses for a song.

Anyway, I take the vast majority of my pictures or video using my phone, but if I'm going to a special event, especially when I know getting a good image with my phone will be hard, I have lots of real camera options.

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John Hourigan
Master Film Handler

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From: Colorado U.S.A.
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted September 12, 2016 03:57 PM      Profile for John Hourigan   Email John Hourigan       Edit/Delete Post 
My back for one is very glad that phone cameras have evolved to the point both still- and video-wise. Back in the early 1980s, I lugged and shot with a broadcast Ikigami camera and battery that felt like it weighed 100-plus pounds -- and I think it's one of the reasons I have back problems today. iPhones now shoot video that's just as good, and in many cases better, than the broadcast camera I shot with 30-35 years ago.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted September 12, 2016 04:08 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
That's a great picture Tom!

I'm not saying a cell phone is a particularly great camera, more like "more than good enough" in the tradition of the usual cameras parents tote to birthday parties and school pageants.

A professional photographer who shows up with his phone will remain laughed at for decades to come! (It's like a carpenter arriving with a Swiss Army knife.)

Consider what used to be good enough:

Kodak 126

(Steven R. Klare, Summer 1968)

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Vs.

My painfully obsolete (-my kid makes fun of it!) IPhone 4S

(Steven G. Klare, Summer 2016)

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-other than the fact my kid has outrageous hair, my Mom and Dad would have been perfectly happy with the cell phone shot.

(-Of course, they may have been a little upset having a grandchild while I was still in Grade School...)

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted September 12, 2016 04:18 PM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
For sure Steve, my parents would have been thrilled with that cell phone shot, not only for the quality, but for the novelty of capturing one of their sons cooking something. [Wink]

The other nice thing about now vs then is that there are precious few pictures of my father because he was the one perpetually behind the camera. Today, lots of people have a camera at any particular gathering so there would be pictures of him too.

For Mother's day, I never have to think about what to get my wife because I've been putting hard bound picture books together every year since my son was born. For the last few years, lots of the pictures are ones that the kids have taken. The books are easy to make in this digital world, but no less precious.

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Evan Samaras
Master Film Handler

Posts: 494
From: Queens, NY, USA
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted September 12, 2016 06:01 PM      Profile for Evan Samaras   Author's Homepage   Email Evan Samaras   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Tom, I think you bring up another point. Many of the digital pictures remain just as that, digital content. I bet most rarely seen after taken. However, an album of pictures, something you can grab and flip through is priceless. Whenever I visited my grandparents I loved to grab the album and look through. I don't find anyone saying, let me open this file on my computer. It's just not out and available to spark interest.

I grew up in a time where film and digital were begining to meet. I used plenty of disposables as a teenager- but never had the chance to learn to shoot a camera. My interest in cameras didn't arrive until my 20's, and it came in the form of a digital camera. I must admit, digital cameras are an excellent way to learn about cameras. However, since I started shooting film, I only go back to digital for some family events where people want quick pictures (sometimes I'll just ditch the digital and make them wait for my enlargements anyways! Sometimes they get some scans instead haha)

There's not a day where I will bring out my Rolleiflex and not get flagged down by someone for a conversation, young or old

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...When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth...

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John Richard Almond
Expert Film Handler

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From: England
Registered: Feb 2012


 - posted September 12, 2016 06:09 PM      Profile for John Richard Almond   Email John Richard Almond   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
but surely there is a trade off here................im just thinking that with the cell phone fotos there is no actual box of paper photos to look at, only pictures taken on a memory stick
Only us types who keep up with the new systems and store the pictures for the future will be able to let our grandchildren and great grand children be able to look at the photos or movies we shot 30+40 years from now.

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Evan Samaras
Master Film Handler

Posts: 494
From: Queens, NY, USA
Registered: Oct 2015


 - posted September 12, 2016 06:38 PM      Profile for Evan Samaras   Author's Homepage   Email Evan Samaras   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
John,

I agree. I keep my files organized with details, even my scanned film. However, I don't find myself looking through my digital albums as often as I do with my collection of prints/Polaroids. The tactile nature of photos are not only much more appealing to me, but again, I find myself running into the physical albums more frequently.

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...When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth...

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Paul Adsett
Film God

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From: USA
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 - posted September 12, 2016 07:16 PM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
When I first started using 8mm film in the 1950's if you wanted to get great pictures you had to know all about film speeds, apertures, focal length, depth of field, parallax, and light meters. All that now appears to be an unnecessary education, in fact do professional digital cameramen even have to know that stuff anymore?
Digital photography has now evolved to the point that most pictures are taken for instant gratification, to be viewed a few times only, never to be printed out, and finally buried within a maze of digital files where no future generation is going to be able to find them.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

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From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted September 12, 2016 08:13 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
quote:
For sure Steve, my parents would have been thrilled with that cell phone shot, not only for the quality, but for the novelty of capturing one of their sons cooking something.
-Well...He doesn't like the way I cook eggs! He prefers them more on the runny side than I do....(eww!).

I actually have a hankering to shoot some 35mm slides. I have a third slot between and ahead of my usual two movie projectors that Dad's slide projector can take over...if I also add the third Super-8 machine for 'Scope things may get ugly! [Wink]

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Evan Samaras
Master Film Handler

Posts: 494
From: Queens, NY, USA
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 - posted September 12, 2016 08:30 PM      Profile for Evan Samaras   Author's Homepage   Email Evan Samaras   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul,

I think all great photographers must know how all of those have an impact on or shots. I only learned to manipulate them well when switching to film-

There was a recent post by ilford online:

"Every shot counts

THERE IS NO ART IN A QUICK SNAP. Use every opportunity to set the perfect shot. Film takes a lot of thought and consideration - a great skill to learn."

I couldn't have said it better

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...When there's no more room in hell, the dead will walk the Earth...

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

Posts: 339
From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted September 12, 2016 11:51 PM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
If it's any consolation Paul, my son took a photography class in high school and he learned about a lot of those things. In fact I recently bought a 40 year old 400mm telephoto lens for about $30. It's entirely manual. There's no image stabilization, aperture must be set manually, and of course you have to focus it yourself.

My intention is to use it with a film camera but with an adaptor it works with our DSLR just fine. The kids and I spent an afternoon with it a couple of weekends ago and I showed my daughter how opening up the aperture affects the depth of field. She loved that effect. A digital camera lets you experiment more freely. With a film camera, every shot counts just a little more and it helps to know what you're doing. Neither are bad things.

I'm having a blast with both film and digital. I even have a light meter app on my phone that looks like a classic light meter.

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Rob Young.
Phenomenal Film Handler

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From: Cheshire, U.K.
Registered: Dec 2003


 - posted September 13, 2016 03:00 AM      Profile for Rob Young.     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Paul, to answer your question;

"When I first started using 8mm film in the 1950's if you wanted to get great pictures you had to know all about film speeds, apertures, focal length, depth of field, parallax, and light meters. All that now appears to be an unnecessary education, in fact do professional digital cameramen even have to know that stuff anymore?"

Oh boy, YES!

Almost everything you can learn with photo-chemical photography relates to using decent digital capture; if you want decent, controllable results.

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William Olson
Master Film Handler

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From: Poughkeepsie, NY USA
Registered: Jun 2010


 - posted September 13, 2016 09:32 AM      Profile for William Olson   Email William Olson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So much I want say here but I'll be brief. I miss dedicated still cameras - film and digital. For years I worked at a huge photo lab. We operated 24/7. We processed and printed consumer film for the Genovese drug store chain in the New York tri-state area. I left just as digital photography was catching on. Now the lab is gone. Learning the basics of film photography, darkroom processes, lenses, lighting, etc. Will always be beneficial to any kind of photography and cinematography.

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Bryan Chernick
Jedi Master Film Handler

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From: Bothell, WA, USA
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 - posted September 13, 2016 11:03 AM      Profile for Bryan Chernick   Email Bryan Chernick   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, was that picture of you shot with a Kodak Instamatic?

I find that shooting digital just doesn't get me excited about photography. I use the camera on my phone to shoot photos for work or if I want to share something right away. I shoot everything from 8mm movie film up to 4x5 large format film and I always have a loaded camera. Many of my family photos are on Instant film, 8mm and Super 8 movie film and View-Master reels. I still have my first camera, a Kodak Instamatic X-15F, that I got when I was about 10 years old. I recently shot this photo with it using Kodacolor Gold 200 film that expired in 1992.

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[ September 13, 2016, 12:28 PM: Message edited by: Bryan Chernick ]

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6908
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted September 13, 2016 11:13 AM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a matter of fact, it was.

This one:

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When I was a teenager my Dad had already moved on to 35mm years before, so he gave it to me and I still have it.

To a certain extent this is the exact same argument as the choice between a manual transmission and automatic. For some, being directly involved in the process is critical. For most: who cares?

(My new car has an automatic and I still shift for myself here and there...at least my left foot finally stopped jumping up and down!)

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All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

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Dan Peterson
Junior
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From: Maple Grove, MN, USA
Registered: Nov 2014


 - posted September 13, 2016 11:40 AM      Profile for Dan Peterson   Email Dan Peterson   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I have a BFA in photography. Spent many hours in the darkroom, which I hated. Jettisoned most all analog gear with the coming of the digital revolution. And then proceeded to take way too many pictures which resulted in a huge archive of digital files.
Over the last ten years, I have catalogued them (using the excellent Imatch software, by photools.com, btw) and have printed all the best ones; snapshots, more serious stuff, etc.
I find that I really love the printing aspect of digital photography, both from native digital files and scanned negatives (as opposed to the dungeon of the wet darkroom; to each his own.) I have all the snapshots in albums for occasional viewing, and people do pull them out and look at them.
That said, my love for analog photography and movie making has been rekindled. I've obtained a few very nice vintage cameras (mosty Olympus) and Super 8 cameras and projectors.
I take far fewer pictures now digitally, and try to "focus" on using the old film cameras, still and moving. This slows me down in a really good way and I love the mechanical tactile "feel" of film.
But, film=money, so that is also a governor.
I've settled into a nice hybrid co-existence with digital and analog media. Also just started building a telecine machine, as I love the software side of things, too. (Gonna take a long time, as I have a lot to learn...)
I've told myself it doesn't have to be one or the other!
I have definitely found a hobby that suits me. [Smile]

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Tom Spielman
Master Film Handler

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From: Minneapolis, MN, USA
Registered: Apr 2016


 - posted September 13, 2016 11:55 AM      Profile for Tom Spielman   Email Tom Spielman   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I agree Dan that it doesn't have to be one or the other and I have a new found appreciation for film. Further, I really enjoy taking pictures with real cameras that have nice, interchangeable lenses.

Back to Steve's point though, If I were forced to choose, I'm not sure I'd trade the puny camera on my phone for the most expensive film or digital camera you could buy. As they say, the best camera is the one you have with you.

The camera I remember my parents using was a polaroid land camera. It wasn't quite instant. I vaguely remember my father pulling the film/print out of the camera after taking a picture, looking at his watch for awhile, and then peeling it apart to reveal the image. My mother was decidedly non-technical. My father died when I was 7 and after that no home movies were taken that I can remember and barely any stills. The cameras sat in the closet. Today even (younger) people that don't consider themselves techies can manage a mobile phone camera.

While 35mm film cameras have disappeared almost completely, you can still buy instant film cameras at places like Target and Walmart. I think that is very telling. Consumers have always wanted low price and convenience. If you want quick and easy prints, a small instant camera still has a place in this digital world.

[ September 13, 2016, 04:55 PM: Message edited by: Tom Spielman ]

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